Zinc Toxicity in Birds

Bokkie is a 1 year old male Sulphur-crested Cocatoo who presented at Andergrove Veterinary Clinic for lethargy and vomiting. His history revealed that he had destroyed his cage and was now starting to destroy his new one. Most metal wire has a zinc coating to prevent it rusting, however if it is swallowed it can cause toxicity in birds.

Thinking he may have swallowed some of his cage wire, Dr Marta Brysha took an x-ray of his abdomen which showed glowing particles in his intestine that were very likely little pieces of wire. If not treated urgently zinc toxicity can cause fatal kidney failure. Blood was taken to check his organ function and to send off to measure his blood zinc level. A 4 day course of medication was needed to treat Bokkie and he was before no time he was back to his normal, playful self.


Note on Zinc Toxicity in Birds:

Zinc Toxicity is a common condition in larger parrot species that can be avoided by following a few simple steps:

1) When buying or building a new enclosure scrub down the wire and zincalume cladding with vinegar and a stiff brush. This decreases the zinc content to minimally toxic levels.

2) Prevent destructive behaviour by alleviating boredom. Provide environmental enrichment such as a variety of perches, ropes and swings as well as hidden treats and puzzles.

3) Keep a regular routine. Try to keep your feeding and handling times the same every day

4) If you are away from the home for long hours during the day, consider getting your bird a bird companion.


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